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A Modern Jive Weekender that’s a sell-out
Sue Astle, one of the regular contributors to the blog, was recently telling me that she was soon off to a Modern Jive Weekender at Warmwell. I had to admit that I hadn’t actually heard of it, which surprised Sue somewhat.
It’s really popular Paul, it’s run by MJRoc and it sells out every year. I’ve been going with my friend Linda for quite a few years now, and we make sure we book early to guarantee a place. It’s held in a holiday park set in beautiful country side. It’s nothing like Southport; for a start all the accommodation is in detached lodges, rather than blocks of chalets. It’s one of my favourite weekenders of the year.
How about doing a Guest Review for the blog?
Since I started my blog I’ve reviewed the Southport Weekender three times , but I’ve long realised that if my blog was to gain national credibility, I needed to visit weekenders in other parts of the country and more importantly ones run by independent dance companies. Sadly when I enquired about Warmwell it was fully booked, but I wondered if Sue might help out.
It seems I’ve missed out this year Sue, so how do you fancy doing a guest review for me. I’ll do all the background stuff, and the writing of course. You just enjoy the weekend and tell me some of the best bits. No doubt you’ll be having a whole lot of fun.
Ok. I’ll give it a go, but one thing. My friend Linda asks if she can contribute. She’s a great fan of Warmwell and would love to spread the word about the fantastic time everyone has.
Yes of course she can. In fact try to get the reactions from some of the other dancers. It could make quite an interesting read.
Warmwell is a wonderful setting for a dance weekender
The MJRoc Weekender is held at the Parkdean Holiday Park in Warmwell. It is set in a parkland in the beautiful countryside of Dorset, about seven miles from the holiday resort of Weymouth. What makes Warmwell special, and no doubt contributes to it selling out, is the accommodation. As Sue told me there are no chalets at Warmwell – the accommodation is all in modern style lodges. I found this video on YouTube. Take a look it’s very impressive.
Warmwell has a great freestyle pedigree
It wasn’t long before I found out that the MJRoc Warmwell Weekender is run by LeRoc Surrey’s Colin Shaul, and Gareth Forge, who runs the Gazzabash Freestyles in Kent. I’ve yet to visit a Gazzabash venue, but I’m a great fan of Colin’s freestyles, and I recently voted LeRoc Surrey’s Tylney Hall Freestyle at Leatherhead as my best of 2016/17. I was quick to ask Colin for some background.
We held our first freestyle at Warmwell in 2010 and it sold out. It’s been the same every year since. This year we’ll have six hundred and fifty dancers in attendance, and fifty crew members including DJs and teachers. There’s so much dancing on offer, and if it’s anything like previous years it’s going to be fantastic.
As well as Modern Jive we’ve got Smooth Jive, Blues, Tango, Lindy Hop, West Coast Swing and Ballroom. They’ll also be Line Dancing and a chance to learn Double Trouble. You can even have a go at Zumba if you have any energy left.
There’s also so much to do on-site. The lodges are set in a wonderful parkland setting with lakes and nature trails, and you’re not far from the beautiful Dorset coastline that includes Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door and Chesil Beach.
A Top DJ Line Up
Warmwell boasts three separate dance areas so that’s a lot of DJ shifts. Colin and Gazza have lined up ten other DJs to share the duties on the decks. In amongst the list of DJs I spotted Cliff and Amanda from Ener Jive. These two had been guest DJs when I reviewed the LeRoc Surrey Freestyle that went on to top my list.
So much new-to-me music
The inclusion of Cliff and Amanda that night had meant that there was an exceptional variety of music, and much of it was completely new to me. Here’s what I wrote about Amanda’s time behind the decks.
Colin’s Guest DJs were Cliff and Amanda, who run their own classes and freestyles at Bordon in Hampshire. Their playlists were packed with new-to-me music and it wasn’t long before Amanda had me on the stage asking ‘What was that track?’ Though she wrote it down for me I may have the wrong remix, but either way its a great piece of dance music. Synapson by Djon Maya Mai is from 2014. Should I have heard it before? I’m sure I would have remembered its distinctive acoustic guitar laid over a techno backing track, and I just loved it when the bass kicked in.
Hopefully we’ll let you know some of the great new music
One of the joys of a weekender for me is hearing lots of new music. If Cliff and Amanda’s performance at Tylney Hall that night is anything to go by, I suspect that the dancers at Warmwell are in for some musical delights. Sue was quick to agree.
One of the reasons I love Warmwell so much is the music. I’ve a great love of modern jive and chill out dance music, and every year I hear some wonderful new tracks. Hopefully I’ll be able to let you know a few of my favourites this time round.
Warmwell Weekender’s very own Facebook Page
This Modern Jive Weekender has its own Facebook Page. It’s a great place to get updates, but more importantly it’s a place where anyone can post their own comments about this upcoming event. I took a peek, and looking at the comments that have already been posted you get a sense of the anticipation building. Here’s a typical posting:
Great, it’s time to have some fun, laughs and dance. Can’t wait
To follow the build up to this event and post your own comments just follow the link to the Warmwell Group Facebook Page I’m hoping that people will make keep adding to the comments, so that I can get a real feel for the proceedings, even though I’m two hundred miles away in Nottingham. Something tells me I could get a little envious!
A Warmwell Ice-breaker
Looking at the Warmwell Weekender Facebook Page I spotted this posting about an ice-breaker meal at the Smugglers Inn.
Warmwell Weekender Traditions
I suspect that the meet up at the Smugglers Inn is a Warmwell tradition. I wondered what other traditions had become part of the Warmwell weekend experience. Colin was keen to tell me about some of the other delights on offer.
Something that’s become quite popular is our Ski Sunday. We have two hours on the slope then its a ski freestyle.
Skiing in Dorset? Surely not! But its true. The Warmwell Holiday Park has its own dry ski slope and MJRoc have a two hour slot on Sunday afternoon. It seems there are quite a few takers, but a Ski Freestyle? I’m struggling with this. Surely you can’t dance with skis on! Perhaps they do lessons.
Can’t ski – well how about a slide down the ski slope
I’ve never really fancied skiing – I’d be the first one to fall over, but sliding down the slope in a rubber ring sounds like the best fun you can have on a Sunday afternoon in November.
Fancy dress is a great tradition at all Modern Jive Weekenders, but Colin is particularly proud that the Warmwell crowd really get on board with it:
The Fancy Dress party is one of the real highlights of the weekend. It’s seems that everybody wants to join in the fun, and we probably have as many as 85% of the people dressing up. That’s probably better than at any other dance weekender.
The costumes are pretty impressive
Colin sent me a whole load of photographs to look at, and I have to say that the extremes that people went to is very impressive. The group of clowns above was typical of the time people spent getting ready. It seems that groups of friends have their own themes. One picture I really loved was the gang who came as ‘Where’s Wally’.
It must have been an amazing sight on the dance floor, and when Sue does her review, we’ll be hoping to feature the best pictures from this years fancy dress dance night. So please post your photos to the MJRoc Facebook page and we’ll be able to lift them from there.
The Warmwell Weekender Programme is now on-line
Colin has just sent me the link to the information pack that can be downloaded by clicking the link Warmwell Information Pack. I’ve had a look through and there is so much on offer. Below I’ve put the programme summary for the three days below and added a few notes of the things that caught my eye.
Friday: Welcome Party, Ice-breaker Lessons & Dancing ’til two in the morning
The dancing kicks off at one in the afternoon
For those that get there early the dancing kicks off at 1 pm in the Blue Room. At 7:30 it’s time for the Welcome Party. Colin ups the music and it’s lift off. This sounds a great idea, particularly for any first timers.
I was also impressed to see that the party is followed by a Modern Jive ice-breaker lessons at 8:30 in the Main Hall with Matt and Sarah. (There’s also a Blues ice-breaker lesson at 11:30 with Nigel and Nina). I love the idea of these ice-breaker lessons – a great way to meet your fellow dancers.
Meet the teachers, then the main dancing starts
There’s no doubt that Warmwell is very customer focused, and I love the idea of meeting the teachers. It must help in understanding just what lessons are on offer, and help you work out which lessons will be the most suitable for you. After this short meet-up the dancing gets started in the main room for a four hour freestyle with DJs Billy Cullen and Kane Jenner.
Saturday: Quiz, Dance Competition & Dancing ’til three in the morningA full programme of classes followed by a quiz
Lessons kick off at 10:00 and go on until 5:30. I’ll be looking at these classes in a little more detail in a future posting. Then it’s Quiz Time with Gazza. This is another Warmwell tradition and I suspect that it may well be taken very seriously. I can’t help wondering what the subjects are. Can’t say I’m very good at quizzes, but if there is a section on Disco Dance Tracks from The ’70s then I’m your man.
A Dance Competition and seven hours of dancing
Dancing starts at 8 pm and goes on in the main room until three in the morning. Once again Billy Cullen and Kane Jenner are on the decks with Colin himself taking over for the last shift at 1:30. At 10:00 there’s a short break for a Dance Competition. Twenty couples are selected based on their dancing on the previous night.
Sunday: Fun on the Ski Slope, a Pool Party and dancing in Fancy Dress
Fun on the Ski Slope and in The Pool too
Sunday has a full programme of lessons again but there’s plenty of fun on offer too. Now you wouldn’t get me on skis – I’d be the first to fall over, but I like the idea of going down the slope in a rubber ring. Not sure whether I’d put my swimmers on either, but I understand that Sunday afternoon in the pool is great fun.
Fancy Dress Competition and more dancing until the early hours
Sunday night is Fancy Dress night, and it seems that just everybody gets dressed up. Prizes for the best costumes are announced around ten o’clock. I’ve featured some of the great costumes above, but here’s another great picture that Colin sent me. Seems the Warmwell Weekenders know how to have fun.
Gazza finishes it all off in the Blues Room at two in the morning
Gazza is on the first shift on the decks in the main room, followed by Billy Cullen, and then its Colin until the main room finish at one thirty. Gazza is back on duty again in the Blue Room from midnight until the big finish at two in the morning.
I’ll be looking at the dancing on offer in the other rooms in more detail in a future posting.
Dorking Halls gives a taster of what’s to come
I was down in West London visiting my daughters again, so I got a chance to do some dancing at LeRoc Surrey’s Dorking Halls Tuesday class night. Colin was on the decks and he served up some great dance tracks. I love Colin’s music, and I’m sure that when he’s on main room DJ-ing duty he will create a real party atmosphere out on the dance floor.
Here are two of his great tracks from Tuesday night. First there was the Amice remix of Pink’s What about us. This is the best remix of this great dance track and is characterised by a thumping bass line. The track not unsurprisingly gave me one of the best dances of the night.
Colin digs out a ’70s Disco Classic
If previous freestyles I’ve visited are anything to go by, then Colin will serve up some great dance music. You can bet they’ll be some rockin’ Rock ‘n’ Roll tracks and some Delicious Disco Delights. On Tuesday night Colin finished the night off with one of the best disco dance tracks of all time – The Trammps Disco Inferno.
This high energy track gave me the best dance of the night, and something tells me Colin will be serving up similar full on tracks at Warmwell to ensure the heat on the dance floor is turned up to the max.
Tracy and Sue’s Dance Gang is ready to Rumble
Quite a few of the LeRoc Surrey faithful are off to Warmwell, and I got to dance and chat with two of them on Tuesday. Tracy and Sue told me just how excited they and their dance friends were getting.
Tracy told me she’d only been dancing for about nine months and that Warmwell was her first weekender. I was quick to ask Tracy if she’d like to contribute to the review that myself and Sue Astle will be doing of the event:
I’d really love to get the perspective of the weekend from the point of view of a first timer. I wonder if you’d like to contribute some thoughts and a few details of your highlights.
OK I’ll give it a go
Latest posting is below here
Only four more sleeps to go
Only four more sleeps until The Warmwell Weekender kicks off. Doing this preview has made me increasingly envious that I learnt about this great dance fest too late. However I am all ready to get my name down for next year, when the booking opens in December. As always people who have booked for this year get priority, but hopefully they’ll be plenty of places left as I’m hoping a load of my Nottingham Dance Gang will make the trip.
Gazza brings 40 years of DJ experience to the weekend bash
Colin Shaul runs the MJRoc Weekenders (remember there’s also Beach Roc on The Isle of Wight in April) with his partner Gareth Forge, affectionately known as Gazza. The Modern Jivers in Kent will be very familiar with his very successful Friday night Gazzabash Freestyles held at Orpington and Bromley.
Colin tells me that Gazza has been DJing for over forty years, and has a long track record of playing at Modern Jive Weekenders. While Colin himself is a main room DJ, Gazza spreads himself over all three dance rooms during the weekend. He’ll be spinning tracks for Smooth Jive, Blues and West Coast Swing as well as taking his turn in the main room.
A treat for West Coast Fans
It falls to Gazza to bring the whole event to a finale with his, in the words of Colin, legendary last two hours in the blue room. This last late night session is described in the programme as a West Coast Party. It seems that Warmwell is quite an attraction for devotees of West Coast Swing.
There are lessons on all three days with teacher Richard James and I was pleased to see that there is a lesson for absolute beginners on Saturday morning. There are also advertised West Coast Swing freestyle sessions on all three evenings, concluding with Gazza’s last two hour party session.
I still have ambitions to do West Coast Swing
Modern Jive is a wonderful way to start your partner dance journey, and many people use it as a stepping stone to other more difficult dance formats like Blues and Tango. Many people also make a progression to West Coast Swing. I remember going to my first Southport Weekender and being mesmerised by the West Coast Swingers in The Blues Room.
Sadly I had several attempts at it, but failed to make enough progress to keep it up. However I still have ambitions to give West Coast Swing a go, and if I haven’t been to lessons by November 2018, expect to find me in the Absolute Beginners Class.
This video remains my WCS inspiration
A few month back I came across this video on YouTube of a West Coast Swing flash mob in Sydney Australia. The dancing is sublime – the moves are so smooth and fluently joined together. My first impression was that it looks relatively easy, but my own experiences of classes tells me that it’s actually a lot harder than it looks. One day I want to be able to dance like that. Hopefully Richard can get me on the right path, if I’ve not started lessons by next year.
Watch this space for more info on this amazing Modern Jive Weekender
I’ll be adding more content each week in the run up to the event itself. I’ll be following the comments on the MJRoc Facebook page and featuring more great music as well as more info about the classes and dancing on offer.